BJJ / Grappling DVD Review: Dean Lister - leg locks in the K.A.T.C.H. System

I honestly can't remember
who's foot this is

Dean Lister is the man. He's one of the most accomplished grapplers out there, but he's also much more, more on that in a future post.

When I saw the opportunity to review his latest DVD set centering around his system of leg attacks I jumped at it. I loved the content, which was expected, but I also believed that it had nothing to do with where I am in my grappling journey. In other words, I didn't think I liked it because I'm a brown belt, but rather because it was good. To prove a point, I asked my good friend and training partner Mr Don Barr to do the review. Don is a blue belt with a great game but, in his own words, is no foot locker. The result was a very thorough and beautifully written BJJ / grappling DVD review:

Dean Lister’s K.A.T.C.H Leg Lock System - review by Don Barr

When Liam suggested I review this DVD set I initially told him to get stuffed. Although we’ve covered basic foot locks in class plenty of times, I’ve never really took to them. I patiently explained that I was probably one of the least qualified people to review this as I can count the number of people I’ve submitted with a foot lock this year on one hand, and under IBJJF rules I can’t even use most of the techniques Lister shows in competition anyway (at the time of writing I’ve been a blue belt for just over two years). Right now it makes sense to concentrate more on guard passing, I said. However, he insisted that it’s aimed at people like me so I relented because it’s Dean Lister.

You can buy the K.A.T.C.H. system DVDs here.

My first exposure to Dean Lister was through a DVD which was released some time ago called “Real World Submissions” which is an interesting mix of documentary and instructional. When I was very new to BJJ I was convinced that my legs were too short to triangle anyone (I know, I know) and an excerpt from this DVD on YouTube was repeatedly referenced on forums as being ideal for people such as myself. I actually bought it in the end on the strength of how useful I found it. Although triangles from guard aren’t really part of my Plan A due to my size and body type, Lister was probably the first person to help me conceptually understand how to correctly apply the triangle by making the angle. I think he has a clear, no-nonsense teaching style that lends itself well to video instructionals.

Dean Lister’s K.A.T.C.H. system covers the five major leg attacks - straight foot lock, heel hook, toehold, knee compression, and straight knee lock. He explains that the straight foot lock is the base of all these five attacks, because it’s the fastest to lock on. He rarely goes straight to a heel hook - he usually attacks with a foot lock first. Once your opponent is trapped in a straight foot lock they must escape, and as they are trying to do this you transition between the other attacks. Bearing this in mind, the first of the four discs is the one that I found most interesting as it focuses on the foot lock.

Disc One – Straight Foot Lock

As you might expect, Mr Lister’s instruction is very clear, covering in detail where and why he likes to place his feet, which part of the leg to apply pressure to, which part of your arm to apply pressure with, what your arms and upper body should be doing, and his preferred grip. Some of these details change depending on whether the foot lock is inside or outside but there isn’t much difference between the two really. He also covers the straight foot lock from 50/50, and emphasises how you should cross your legs - even if you aren’t allowed to heel hook it is bad practice to leave your heel in a suicidal position, and you should never leave your physical wellbeing in the hands of somebody else if possible.

You can buy the K.A.T.C.H. system DVDs here.

Disc Two – Heel Hooks and a few compression techniques

Lister emphasises how dangerous heel hooks can be, and whilst he is happy to show straight foot locks to white belts he reserves heel hooks until purple belt, and advises that to train them you should catch and release rather than apply. As long as your training partner doesn’t have an ego problem, he’ll know that he was caught. There is a lot a detailed instruction on heel hooks, but I’ll probably come back to this one later on.

Disc Three – Toe Holds and Knee Locks

Lots of detail and setups for toe holds and knee locks. Lister explains that the toe hold is almost as dangerous as the heel hook, so again I’ll try these further on down the line. However as the knee lock is not a twisting submission I’ll feel more comfortable giving these a try in sparring if I happen to recognise the opportunity. As with all the techniques, there is a lot of detail and time spent in explaining what goes where and why.

You can buy the K.A.T.C.H. system DVDs here.

Disc Four – Compression, calf slicers and escapes

The first technique shown is a compression-based counter to a straight foot lock which looked really cool and relatively easily applicable which I am definitely going to drill. This was immediately followed by some eye-watering calf slicers, “The Hobbler” in particular looking exceptionally damaging as a finisher when your opponent doesn’t tap for some reason. Again, Lister took great care to emphasise just how dangerous some of these techniques are.

Lister then shows as a kind of bonus some wrinkles on resisting the triangle and armbar, and then moves on to showing some tips on the prevention, resistance and escaping of foot locks and heel hooks. He also throws in a triangle escape, last-ditch armbar escape, and a half guard sweep.


The only minor criticism I would have is that occasionally the audio becomes somewhat muffled depending on his position because he is wearing a clip-on mic. Also, if you were playing a drinking game revolving around how many times Lister says the word “simple” you would be dead many times over. These are minor quibbles however, and on the whole this is an excellent instructional.

As I mentioned one of the reasons that I have neglected leg attacks so far is that I don’t want to hold back the development of my guard passing, however Lister repeatedly emphasises that leg attacks compliment guard passing, that they go hand in hand with each other. When you are struggling to pass the guard you can attack a leg, and when your opponent defends the leg attack it opens up the opportunity for a pass.

Lister also makes the point that if you consider the neck, arms and legs your points of attack, if you neglect the legs you immediately remove 40% of your attacking options. Anecdotally I have heard that once you get to brown belt people will suddenly start leg locking the absolute crap out of you. Many players at this level and beyond strongly favour leg attacks. This changes everything, so starting to consider and incorporate leg attacks before this point is probably a good plan if you’re looking to avoid a rude awakening.

I won’t profess to be competent or proficient in any of the techniques shown in this DVD set, but it is clear that the content is pretty comprehensive and the quality of instruction is very high. I can see myself referring back to this instructional for a long time to come. Hopefully I will be able to start pulling some of this stuff off within the next 6 to 12 months.

You can buy the K.A.T.C.H. system DVDs here.

I would like to thank Mr Don Barr for the review and the team at Dean Lister Leg Locks for sending me the DVDs to review. I'd also like to thank Mr Dean Lister, just for being so awesome!



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